4 Tricks to Reduce Anxiety About Making Decisions

What’s the alternative to making decisions?

Allowing someone else, or circumstances, to make them for you.

And that is giving up control of your life. That’s giving up all power to your life to other people or circumstance. And that will make you miserable.

It reminds me of walking through a wonderful food buffet where you could have anything you want — 0 calories! — and allowing someone else to decide what you took on your plate. Unacceptable!

So when faced with decision anxiety, is the alternative — giving up all control to others or circumstance — the preferred method? Definitely not. No matter how difficult the decision, making it yourself gives you some modicum of control.

On the flip side, of course, it also gives you the responsibility, and therefore you can’t blame anyone else.

Let’s consider that. Does it make you feel better to blame someone else? For example, you have a really bad haircut, and you decide it’s the hairstylist fault because she talked you into it. Ok, so now you’ve correctly affixed the blame — do you still have a bad haircut? So what did it accomplish? Nothing.

Instead, consider this: You have a bad haircut because you thought this was the style that you wanted, but now you see that it’s not for you. You still have the haircut, but since you’ve accepted your part in it, it empowers you — instead of making you a victim to it.

Being a victim to a decision emasculates you. Being a participator in a decision empowers you.

To reduce anxiety for your decisions, keep this in mind:

1. Stop looking for a prediction of the future.
There’s a difference in making a decision and looking for a prediction. There is likely to be a risk in most any decision more complicated than deciding on a type of dessert. Things change, people change, ideas change, desires change. The decision is made on what you know, what you believe, what direction you want to go in. The future cannot be predicted. Don’t let that stop you.

2. Be as informed as possible before making a decision.
Do what you need to do, but try to be realistic about it. For example, if you tried to read every article on decision anxiety, you’d be 100 years old before you finished — not much help, there, huh. So if you find yourself procrastinating, give yourself a time limit –“I will read 50 different articles, and talk to 10 people, and decide by 5:00 pm on Thursday.”

3. Realize that very few things are set in stone.
Maybe you have lots of things you want to do in your life, and you just seem to make a decision on what to do or how to do them all. This is “analysis-paralysis”. Instead, remind yourself that focusing on one thing right now doesn’t mean that you’re giving up others. It simply means that you have decided to get started on one project, with the realization that you can do the others at any time you choose.

4. Remind yourself of successful decisions.
One of my clients didn’t believe that she could make any good decisions until we started her keeping a list of the many good decisions she made every day. Sure some were small, but throughout her life, she began to realize that she had made many more good decisions than bad ones.

Easier decision making is really about valuing yourself and your own opinions. Believe in your ability, and trust your instincts. Appreciate your input into your decisions, and understand and accept that every single decision you make might not be perfect. Learn from it, expect the best from yourself, and you’ll get the best.

Author: Kathy Gates

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4 comments
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